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Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders | [Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry]

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial Vincent Bugliosi held a unique insider's position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the 20th century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers. What motivated Manson in his seemingly mindless selection of victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Now available for the first time in unabridged audio, the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime is brought to life by acclaimed narrator Scott Brick.
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Publisher's Summary

Prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial Vincent Bugliosi held a unique insider's position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the 20th century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers. What motivated Manson in his seemingly mindless selection of victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Now available for the first time in unabridged audio, the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime is brought to life by acclaimed narrator Scott Brick.

©1974 Curt Gentry and Vincent Bugliosi, Afterword 1994 by Vincent Bugliosi (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“One of the best crime stories ever written.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (2167 )
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4.4 (1915 )
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4.5 (1911 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Teresa NAMPA, ID, United States 09-16-13
    Teresa NAMPA, ID, United States 09-16-13 Member Since 2015

    Hello, my name is Teresa and I'm an addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow, what a mess."

    I can't believe all the crap that has happened to fubar this case. But at least in the end the bad guys were punished and not set free. Makes me wonder if the court system had not screwed up so much, how much of this would have happened. Maybe it would have happened a different time, different people. Although I'm not naïve enough to believe this doesn't happen every day with our judicial system. This doesn't even bring up what the police and coroner did or didn't do. It is crazy to imagine people following a monster like Manson, the way his girls did and still some still follow this maniac. I enjoyed this book, but I had to split up the reading since it was so long. Sometimes the different names and alias would confuse me. I ended up doing a little online research to clearly see and envision what these people looked like. I can only imagine what horrors The Manson Family could have perpetrated if they hadn't have been caught. Wonder what Manson thinks of our nation having a black president. Narrator was good, clear and concise if not a little droll.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Theresa 08-25-13
    Theresa 08-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Chilling, gut wrenching and thought provoking"
    What did you love best about Helter Skelter?

    It's hard to give a book about brutal murders 5 stars without clarifying that the stars are for the telling of the story and not due to an affinity for the content of the story itself. So with that out of the way...The storytelling is amazingly detailed and as such is sometimes very hard to listen to. Reading this story gave me insight about something that, although I thought I had known about for years, I never in any real sense understood. This book opened my eyes.Though a very long book it moved along and kept me interested. I found I could not stop listening until I absolutely had to.


    Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Haven't listened to anything else by Scott Brick, but after listening to this book I would consider it a definite plus that he was the narrator on any other books I review for purchase.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    That disenfranchised people without something good to believe in, often make very bad life choices.


    Any additional comments?

    When you listen to this book you will find yourself cursing the stupidity of the law enforcement and court system that allowed Charles Manson and his family to commit both the heinous crimes they are famous for, and also the undoubtedly numerous offenses for which they have never been tried.I am and always will be a supporter of the ideal of law enforcement and the officers that protect us from the evil in this world. But the absolute failure of some of the officers and other personnel involved in this investigation to perform their duties in this case is mind boggling and deeply disturbing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael United States 07-24-13
    Michael United States 07-24-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Only in Real life!"

    This book is very suspenseful! Vincent Bugliosi gives you a first hand behind the scenes look at one of the weirdest and craziest true life murders in American history! Scott brick does a great job of maintaining a spookiness to this book. since the author was the chief prosecutor against the Manson family, you get a look into everything that happened in the investigation. Because of this, it can get a little dry. You are getting a very thorough story line. It did give my girlfriend nightmares for a few days, but that's what you get when something so heinous happens in real life. I enjoyed Helter Skelter and I know you will as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cyndi HAGERSTOWN, MD, United States 07-08-13
    Cyndi HAGERSTOWN, MD, United States 07-08-13
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    "Really Long...But Great"
    Where does Helter Skelter rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is probably one of the most interesting books I've listened to so far. I knew some history of the Manson family, but this books really pulls you in and you get to know everyone involved in the family. You just can't imagine the horror those victims went through...and the details of what the Manson family did to them all was unbelievable. Really horrible story, but what an explanation of the events!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan OLNEY, IL, United States 03-14-13
    Susan OLNEY, IL, United States 03-14-13

    bargain hunter

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    "WOW!"
    What made the experience of listening to Helter Skelter the most enjoyable?

    I was in Junior High/High School when the trial was going on, was very interested in knowing what actually went on, since I just remember bits and pieces. (I DO remember Nixon saying what he said about Manson being guilty!)


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Helter Skelter?

    The trial was fascinating! I guess that's not ONE memorable moment, but cannot put my finger on ONE memorable moment.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    It was very good, but since I've listened to Scott read this book, I cannot listen to him read any other book because I think of Helter Skelter!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was moved by VIncent Bugliosi's dedication and work on this case! (And of course, I have to think so highly of his wife and family who did not see him throughout this trial!)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carmen KENNESAW, GA, United States 03-04-13
    Carmen KENNESAW, GA, United States 03-04-13

    I'm a female in my early 30's. My favorite genre is fantasy, though I will sometimes venture outside of it for a good true crime book. I can't get enough reading, so Audible is perfect for me because then I don't have to put my book down to "work." (UGH)

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    "Be prepared to be completely creeped out!"
    Would you listen to Helter Skelter again? Why?

    I would absolutely listen to this again! There was just so much information, I think it's almost necessary to read it again to catch everything. Also, repulsing as it is, the story is also incredibly fascinating. These crimes were behind my time. I was born 10 years after they took place. Still, I knew the story of the Manson "Family" from adolescence. It's just, for lack of a better word (and I hate being redundand) fascinating.


    What did you like best about this story?

    There is nothing really to "like" about this story. What I can say that I liked about this book is that it goes deeper into the history, and it tells of many other murders believed to be committed by the "Family," other than the Hinman, Tate and LaBianca murders.


    What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He did a very, very good job narrating this book. Never once did I get tired of hearing him speak, and he added a bit of spookiness to it.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Of course I had an extreme reaction! Anyone not having an extreme reaction to this book is twisted!


    Any additional comments?

    I think this a story all young, impressionable people should hear. Though it's horrifying and gruesome, it teaches a lesson. There are predators out there that we don't teach our children about. Some predators will use a young person's body for their own means, others will use their minds. Charles Manson brainwashed these children and used them as killing machines. There are many, many children out there with a void needing to be filled, and who knows when the next Manson will come along to fill it. I personally knew someone like this. He was not evil to the extent of Manson, but he surely had the charm and charisma to bend people's thinking his way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Furlong St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada 02-11-13
    Sarah Furlong St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada 02-11-13 Member Since 2014
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    "A little disappointing"
    Would you listen to Helter Skelter again? Why?

    The story didn't really meet my expectations - included too many frivolous details. Wasn't a huge fan of the narrator, either.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Just wasn't the right choice for the book - his voice almost kind of puts you to sleep..


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Caledonia, MI, United States 02-05-13
    Mark Caledonia, MI, United States 02-05-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Hard to imagine this was real"
    If you could sum up Helter Skelter in three words, what would they be?

    A true account of a mad man and his followers


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I could have, it was riveting, and very informative, and very easy to listen to


    Any additional comments?

    Charles Manson is a nut job, and now that there is a chance that one of his followers might be released from prison brings this book back into the spotlight, ANYONE who thinks that anyone of his "Family Members" ought to be released from prison needs to listen or read this book, it will change your mind very quickly !!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tricia Elkridge, MD, United States 02-02-13
    Tricia Elkridge, MD, United States 02-02-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Fascinating !"

    Bugliosi is as good as a storyteller as he is prosecutor.

    Almost everyone knows the story about Manson and the "Tate murders" but I would guess that few know *all* the facts - the gruesome, unbelievable facts. Bugliosi starts at the beginning and takes the reader/ listener through the murders, the "Family", pre-trial motions, discovery, evidence, witnesses, drugs, orgies, and, of course, the man, the myth - Manson ... including his past, his motivations, and the strange but very powerful hold he held on young people -- particularly young women.

    It's a truth-really-is-stranger-than-fiction read.

    And you won't be able to put it down or stop talking about it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan 01-27-13
    Ryan 01-27-13
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    "Incredible story, a fantastic read, wonderful job by a wonderful prosecutor."
    Where does Helter Skelter rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    So far I've listened to about three audiobooks, this one ranks at the top with the best of them.


    What other book might you compare Helter Skelter to and why?

    This book is like any other true story, biography you might think of. It is about a sick and twisted man, and horrific crime and an amazing trial.


    Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

    The narrator did a fantastic job overall.


    If you could give Helter Skelter a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Crime and trial of the century.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • john
    liverpool, United Kingdom
    3/28/12
    Overall
    "great book"

    have to agree with previous reviewer, a great book well read and detailed, well it would be it was written by the prosecuting attourny 'vincent bugliosi' i enjoyed every minite of the almost 27 hours and will deffinatly be giving it another listen, would recomend this book to anyone curious of how/why sheep follow loonies and see them as gods.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs Tebay
    Devon, United Kingdom
    12/10/11
    Overall
    "Absolutely fascinating study of evil"

    Really brilliant book and very well narrated. I was sad to see it come to an end. For such heavy and horrific subject matter it is written in a way that gives an amazing insight into the 'mind' of evil and the power of cults...a really good buy, wouldn't hesitate to recommend to those who like true crime.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Sara
    Portsmouth
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Rich and detailed writing style"

    An intensely detailed examination of one of the most shocking and culturally defining murders in American history. The rich and detailed writing style doesn't hamper the readers progress like in so many other books of this type. An intriguing story well narrated by Scott Brick.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Suzy
    7/31/15
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    Performance
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    "Really boring"

    Over obsessed with Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. Other murder victims are not acknowledged as they should be. The level of detail relating the legal aspects makes this a laborious read. Had to keep repeating chapters as my mind kept wandering. Didn't finish the book, gave up fairly early on.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • william
    6/2/15
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    "Very deep insight into the trial"

    I enjoyed this audiobook overall. I was looking for a book in depth as possible for the entire Manson story as I knew nothing of it. The book was massively in depth but, obviously being written by the DA it dealt very deeply with details of the case. I would defiantly like to read a book more about Manson and whatever legacy his crimes made and this book gives firm foundation of how it came to be.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Eugene
    New Ash Green, United Kingdom
    12/18/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Evil: Step by Step"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Helter Skelter to be better than the print version?

    In both print and on audio the book becomes more and more engrossing as it develops. It's length makes the audio version preferable for a second reading. There is so much detail only an unabridged version is acceptable.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The detail of the story, what might be described as the boring work of detection that a fiction thriller would leave out is the most compelling aspect of the story. Detectives, as they say, 'work the case' and in Helter Skelter it's clear what this really means. There's also a sense of people reacting to a murder in different ways,creating their own version of events when they don't know the truth, being unable to see the truth, because they have created their own narrative of the crime. What comes through step by step is the sense of evil: of people being able to decide and plan and want to murder, and to believe they have the right to murder. The facts of the case are famous, but the detail is what makes an engrosssing and morally insightful story.


    Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I recognize the name Scott Brick, but don't track my audio books by performance. Brick's reading is slow and steady and clear. Some might say that this is not dramatic enough, but it would be a betrayal of the book to give it an over-dramatic reading. Brick also avoids any sort of accents or performance for the dialogue, which is also the right approach.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I read the book in print many years ago and decided to revisit it in audio. At 26 hours its not a book for a single sitting. Its a book I will listen to for an hour and then leave for some time, treating it more like a serial than single story. 26 parts is a long tale. Also there are a lot of people and events. Its more involving to mull over events, rather than consume them at one gulp. The book is structured to move slowly towards the killers, chronologically, this does work as a dramatic device. The public history means that you know who will be convicted, but the book recreates this process, giving you a sense that how things turned out were not always inevitable and clear.


    Any additional comments?

    A book like Donna Tartt's The Secret History, a fictional crime story, is lauded as a literary work, and this is justified. There's always some sense that a true crime story is more sensationalist and morally tawdry compared to true literature. There is badly written true crime, but Helter Skelter is written with the detail and diligence that makes it a great book. It's a social novel, about people who lived and worked in Hollywood in the sixties and a study of a 'cult'. Both these topics are often treated superficially, but in working from the facts, using the development as the investigation as an insight into the people, their motives and personality become understood.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Maureen
    11/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Detailed and fascinating"
    What made the experience of listening to Helter Skelter the most enjoyable?

    The subject matter was well re-told by the author who was objective and clearly had a thorough knowledge of this famous crime.

    Well read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The subject itself of the Manson Family and their killings


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michael Champion
    Nottinghamsshire UK
    10/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Detailed and gripping"
    If you could sum up Helter Skelter in three words, what would they be?

    Fascinating, engaging and detailed


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Helter Skelter?

    The description of the two murder sites (and the casual way the killers acted then and in court). That is two really but hey.


    Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No I have not listened to this narrator elsewhere


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    All the facts - balanced and delivered


    Any additional comments?

    If you enjoy 'true crime' then this is an important book for you. Even though the author was the prosecutor he gives a balanced account of the events and evidence. A good book well told.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • jennycola
    Middlesex UK
    7/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book, well read"
    Would you listen to Helter Skelter again? Why?

    Yes. Although its long I wasn't bored at all. I was interested from start to finish and the details about the crimes and people are interesting enough to want to hear again.


    What other book might you compare Helter Skelter to, and why?

    I've not listened to anything like this before but would definitely look for others now


    Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favourite?

    I found all the characters (people) equally interesting for their own reasons


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Listening to the testimonies during the trial


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't know any details about Charles Manson only the name. It's so true what is said towards the end... listen ;) Next stop The Beatles album...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Laurence
    Perth, United Kingdom
    7/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More like a report than a story"
    What disappointed you about Helter Skelter?

    Despite being described as 'the true story' and the use of the expression 'brings to life', the first 6 hours of this book consisted of over elaborate and detailed narration of the steps in the investigation and the evidence in the case. I appreciate it is a true account, but I expected it to be told with the colour and characterisation of a story rather than in the mundane style of a police report. I gave up after the first 6 hours. Maybe the next 20 might change the perspective or 'bring it to life' as promised. I don't have the stamina to find out. Sorry.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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